Shawn Marion was heartbroken Thursday when he learned that Rick Carlisle had surprisingly stepped down as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks.

Carlisle and Marion have a deep bond that can never be broken, as the pair helped the Mavs capture the 2011 NBA championship. Carlisle was the trusted coach who guided the Mavs to their only world title, while Marion was his starting small forward who averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds during the championship season.

“Coach Carlisle sure is special,” Marion said. “We are bonded together for life on the winning side of things.

“I’m sad to see him leave, but I wish him the best.”

Marion played for Carlisle and the Mavs from 2009-14. In fact, during his 16-year NBA career, Marion played for Carlisle longer than he played for any other coach.

Thus, when the Mavs beat the odds and won the title, there was Marion savoring the moment alongside Carlisle.

“We’re all connected with this championship,” Marion said. “It’s a complete team effort and everybody bought in (to what Carlisle was selling) from Day One.”

Buying in took on extra special meaning when the Mavs reached the 2011 Finals. After all, every so-called NBA expert with an opinion – and even the casual fan – overwhelmingly predicted the Heat’s Hall of Fame trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would downright crush the Mavs in the championship series.

But with Carlisle drawing up Xs and Os, and Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Marion flat-out balling, the Mavs rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win three straight games and the championship in six games.

For Marion, it was truly an “I told you so” moment.

“Like I tell everybody else when I have time to really reflect on it, because folks don’t know (expletive) about basketball,” Marion said. “All everybody is doing is guessing. How many guys physically actually played this game? Actually played at that level?

“There are plenty of guys that played the game, but if you’ve never been to the Finals how do you even know what it feels like? It’s like me telling you I’m a good writer and I ain’t never wrote a damn thing.”

Marion remembers a lot of X’s and O’s Carlisle wrote on the chalkboard. And he remembers the Mavs falling to 26-14 on Jan. 17, 2011, following a disheartening 103-89 road loss to the Detroit Pistons.

Marion also remembers Carlisle circling the wagons and the Mavs finishing the 2010-11 season by winning 31 of their final 42 games and collecting an impressive 57-25 record that earned them the No. 3 seed in the always tough Western Conference.

A lot that came to fruition, Marion said, due to the leadership of Carlisle.

“Any other team that won a championship, throughout the course of a season it’s going to be a roller coaster,” Marion said. “There’s going to be some ups and downs with it. But we came in focused, and that’s what you want.

“If you see things during the season, that keeps you in the mix for good things to come towards the end of the season. There are so many things you can go into as far as that season – the things that we did and how we did it together. Everybody played their part from top to bottom.”

And that includes Carlisle, who – along with the title he won as a player with the Boston Celtics in 1986 – is one of only 14 men to win an NBA championship as a player and as a coach.

Now that Carlisle’s 13-year tenure with the Mavs is history, Marion noted that he’s going to miss seeing his former coach roaming the sidelines barking out plays. But he knows he can pick up the phone and call Carlisle any time, because they have a lasting and deep relationship that can never be broken.

“Carlisle is a great guy,” Marion said. “I wish him the best — if he decides to coach again or not.

“Who knows? He may be tired of it. You never know.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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